Citizens call on White House to end FBI efforts to compel Apple in phone unlocking case
February 20, 2016
By JOSEPH KELLER
A new petition is asking the Obama Administration to halt the FBI's efforts to compel Apple to create a software backdoor into iOS in order to access data on the iPhone 5c of one of the San Bernardino shooters. The petition, posted on the White House's We the People site, calls the FBI's efforts an "unprecedented step" that threatens the security of Apple's customers.
"The FBI, is demanding that Apple build a "backdoor" to bypass digital locks protecting consumer information on Apple's popular iPhones.We the undersigned, oppose this order, which has implications far beyond the legal case at hand."
As of this writing, the petition has gathered 8,331 digital signatures. If it receives 100,000 by March 18, 2016, it will merit a response from the Administration.
At the same time, Congressman Ted Lieu of California's 33rd congresional district — one of the small handful of lawmakers with a background in computer science — has expressed his concerns over the FBI's approach. In a statement, Congressman Lieu cautioned against rash action that could weaken both the privacy of American citizens, as well as American enterprise.
"Forcing Apple to weaken its encryption system in this one case means the government can force Apple—or any other private sector company—to weaken encryption systems in all future cases. This precedent-setting action will both weaken the privacy of Americans and hurt American businesses. And how can the FBI ensure the software that it is forcing Apple to create won't fall into the wrong hands? Given the number of cyberbreaches in the federal government—including at the Department of Justice—the FBI cannot guarantee this back door software will not end up in the hands of hackers or other criminals."
Apple has been locked in a public battle with the FBI and Department of Justice since it publically stated its opposition to a court order requiring the company to help unlock the shooter's phone. The chair of the House Commerce Committee recently invited both Apple CEO Tim Cook and FBI director James Comey to testify before the committee on this matter.